When it comes to children’s television, there’s something so convenient about streaming. It’s always available, the next episode is automatically at the ready, and you don’t have to deal with adverts for things that your kids will inevitably bug you to buy. You just log on and start watching whatever you want.
But what to watch? Now, that’s the question. Thankfully parents in South Africa are spoilt for choice, with streaming services like Showmax offering on-demand kids entertainment at the press of a button. From shows that teach little ones new words and help them identify emotions, to movies to help inspire and entertain older children; there’s something for every kid waiting to be discovered on Showmax. Here are our picks for the best movies and series for kids on Showmax this month:
MOOMINVALLEY S1-2 | All ages
Adapted from Tove Jansson’s beloved tales of the Moomin family, Moominvalley features a stellar voice cast including Golden Globe winner Taron Egerton as Moomintroll; BAFTA winner Matt Berry as Moominpappa; and Oscar nominee Rosamund Pike as Moominmamma, not to mention the likes of Oscar and Emmy winner Kate Winslet and Bel Powley, and author Will Self.
The most expensive European animation series ever, Moominvalley is directed by Oscar-winner Steve Box (Wallace & Gromit), produced by Emmy winner John Woolley (Shaun the Sheep), and written by award winners Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler (Peter Rabbit).
DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBOURHOOD S5B | ages 3+
Integrating music, interactivity and a research-based curriculum, the animated hit show follows Daniel, a shy but brave four-year-old tiger who lives in the Neighbourhood of Make Believe with his family and friends. You may recognise Daniel’s voice: actor Keegan Hedley also voices Rubble in Paw Patrol.
Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood has been praised by many critics for its “seamless incorporation of preschool skills like counting and phonics”. The show appeals to preschoolers on a level that only animation can, taking the opportunity to teach them important interpersonal and pre-reading skills.
MADAGASCAR: A LITTLE WILD S1 | ages 5+
DreamWorks Animation’s Madagascar: A Little Wild follows the early years of the Madagascar movie franchise’s heroes — Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe and Gloria the Hippo — as they grow up in a rescue habitat at the Central Park Zoo.
A Little Wild focuses on friendship as well as adventure, with consistent, positive messages about being yourself, not giving up, and being willing to pursue your dreams. The upbeat musical numbers are fun, too.
TROLLSTOPIA S1 | ages 6+
If your kids are hooked on the troll-ific Trolls World Tour movie from Dreamworks, then we have great news: TrollsTopia — the series — catches up with Poppy and the other enchanting characters for more hair-raising adventures. TrollsTopia is visually beautiful with its candy-coloured world and copious amounts of glitter.
TrollsTopia takes place immediately following the events in Trolls World Tour, when Poppy discovered that there are at least six different Trolls tribes, each identified by a different musical style. Now that Poppy knows there are other musical trolls, she bottles up her endless positivity and invites delegates from every troll tribe in the forest to live together in harmony in a grand experiment she calls TrollsTopia!
Also read: Top 5: Best Streaming Devices
SCOOB! | ages 7+
Scooby-Doo and the gang are back in the animated adventure comedy, Scoob!, where they must face their most challenging mystery ever: a plot to unleash the ghost dog Cerberus upon the world. As they race to stop this dogpocalypse, the gang discovers that Scooby has an epic destiny greater than anyone imagined.
Scooby is voiced by Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award-winning voice artist Frank Welker (who’s voiced Fred since 1969 and Scooby since 2002), with multiple-Emmy nominee Will Forte as the voice of Shaggy; Emmy, Kids’ Choice, Teen Choice and People’s Choice multi-award winner Zac Efron voicing Fred; Oscar nominee Amanda Seyfried as the voice of Daphne; and Golden Globe and Teen Choice winner Gina Rodriguez as Velma. Also listen out for Oscar nominee Mark Wahlberg as Blue Falcon and Jason Isaacs, as Dick Dastardly.
THE MIGHTY ONES S1 | ages 8
DreamWorks Animation’s latest cartoon series, The Mighty Ones, follows the hilarious adventures of a group of creatures: a twig, a pebble, a leaf and a strawberry, who live in an unkempt backyard belonging to a trio of equally unkempt humans whom they mistake for gods. The series delivers the quirkiness and manic energy we expect from a DreamWorks Animation series and shows that anyone can go on amazing adventures, even if you’re just a tiny pebble or random leaf.
Voiced by legends like Eric Bauza (Looney Tunes’ Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck), Fred Tatasciore (Looney Tunes’ Yosemite Sam and Taz) and Josh Brener (Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), the series was nominated for a 2021 Emmy for Outstanding Voice Directing for an Animated Series.
WAR WITH GRANDPA | ages 8+
Peter and his grandpa used to be very close, but when Grandpa Jack moves in with the family, Peter is forced to give up his most prized possession: his bedroom. Peter will stop at nothing to get his room back, scheming with friends to devise a series of pranks to drive him out. However, grandpa doesn’t give up easily, and it turns into an all-out war between the two.
The 40th biggest box office hit of 2020 globally, War With Grandpa stars Oscar winner Robert De Niro, Oscar nominee Uma Thurman, and rising child star Oakes Fegley, as well as Oscar-winner Christopher Walken, Emmy winner Jane Seymour and multi-award-winner Cheech Marin.
THE SECRET GARDEN | ages 8+
The enchanting fantasy adventure The Secret Garden follows Mary Lennox, an orphaned girl who is sent to live at her strict uncle’s estate, only to discover it conceals a magical garden.
This newest adaptation of the beloved 1911 classic children’s novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett is led by newcomer Dixie Egerickx as Mary, with Oscar nominee Dame Julie Walters as Mrs Medlock, Edan Hayhurst as Colin Craven and Emmy nominee Amir Wilson as Dickon. Oscar winner Colin Firth plays Lord Archibald Craven, returning to the tale 34 years after he played the adult Colin in the 1987 TV movie of the same name.
PINOCCHIO | ages 10+
Pinocchio, based on the beloved fairy tale by Carlo Collodi, stars Oscar winner Roberto Benigni as the old woodcarver Geppetto, whose puppet creation, Pinocchio, magically comes to life. Naive and curious, Pinocchio tumbles from one misadventure to the next as he is tricked, kidnapped and chased by bandits on his quest to become a real boy.
Directed by BAFTA winner Matteo Garrone, Pinocchio is a visually stunning film that proves some tales really are timeless.
Also read: Buying Guide: Safe Toys & Games for Toddlers
SESAME STREET S50 | ages 2+
Sesame Street got its start at the height of the civil rights movement and the war on poverty, in answer to a simple but powerful question: could television help prepare less advantaged children for school? In 1969, the show’s founders tapped researchers, entertainers, and other visionaries to create a “street” like no other, where colourful monsters, humans, and even grouches lived side by side. Today, the show reaches kids and families in more than 150 countries and 70 languages.
Celebrity guests in Season 50 include musicians Charlie Puth, Maren Morris and Dave Grohl; ballet dancer Misty Copeland; comedian Michael Che; and Olympic athlete Chloe Kim. The season also introduces Big Bird’s Road Trip, a special segment that tours the United States and beyond to find out what kids love about where they live.
Later in the season, a new neighbour comes to Sesame Street. Played by Violet Tinnirello, eight-year-old Charlotte – her friends call her “Charlie” – is the first child to join the Sesame Street cast in more than 20 years. Charlie is a military child who moves to the neighbourhood with her family, bringing viewers along for the ride as she explores her new home for the first time.
Showmax has also added Emmy-winning Sesame Street specials like When You Wish Upon a Pickle and The Magical Wand Chase, as well as Season 6 of the SAFTA-winning South African spinoff Takalani Sesame, among other Sesame Workshop content.
THE NOT-TOO-LATE SHOW WITH ELMO S1 | ages 3+
Hosted by a certain furry red monster, The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo is a star-studded talk show for the whole family that won the 2021 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Children’s Programming. With 13 episodes, each highlighting a different part of kids’ bedtime routines, it’s the perfect way for kids and parents to wind down together at the end of the day.
Elmo welcomes a star-studded lineup of guests to The Not-Too-Late Show to entertain families with music, games, and fun – with Cookie Monster as his sidekick, other Sesame Street pals as backstage crew, and even his very own house band! Performers like Lil Nas X and the Jonas Brothers put their own spin on beloved Sesame Street songs; John Mulaney and Olivia Wilde get competitive with tricycle races and teddy bear dress-up contests; Jonathan Van Ness gives Alan a “monster makeover”; and Jimmy Fallon and John Oliver stop by to give Elmo some hosting advice, and much more—all before Elmo’s bedtime!
With a little help from these famous visitors, The Not-Too-Late Show gives familiar nighttime activities like brushing teeth, choosing a bedtime story, and putting on pyjamas a fresh and fun twist that only Elmo could deliver.
DC SUPER HERO GIRLS S2 | ages 8+
DC Super Hero Girls follows teenage superheroes (and Metropolis High School students) Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Bumblebee, Supergirl, Green Lantern, and Zatanna as they fight crime and protect the citizens of Metropolis.
Created by Emmy-winning writer-producer Lauren Faust (who developed My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic), DC Super Hero Girls is empowering and inspiring. It’s wild, colourful and incredibly funny. Binge episodes 1-4 of Season 2 from 1 October 2021, with Season 1 already available on Showmax.
THE CROODS: A NEW AGE | ages 8+
DreamWorks Animation’s “Croodaceous” adventure The Croods: A New Age follows the prehistoric Croods pack as they try to keep up with their new, more evolved neighbours, the Bettermans. The Croods: A New Age is a wickedly funny sequel with vibrant animation and a wackadoodle sense of humour. It’s perfect for both kids and adults alike!
Oscar winners Nicolas Cage and Emma Stone, legend Cloris Leachman, Oscar nominee Catherine Keener, MTV Movie Award winner Ryan Reynolds, and Screen Actors Guild Award nominee Clark Duke reprise their voice roles from the first film. Four-time Emmy winner Peter Dinklage and Teen Choice nominees Leslie Mann and Kelly Marie Tran join the voice cast as the Bettermans.
If you haven’t seen the first film, or want a refresher before watching the sequel you can also catch the Oscar-nominated original film The Croods on Showmax.
Stream Showmax with the DStv Explora Ultra decoder:
DStv has launched its Explora Ultra decoder with new features, including built-in access to Showmax, Netflix and other popular streaming apps. According to DStv, key features of the decoder include built-in WiFi capabilities, support for 4K Ultra HD and Dolby Atmos, a new DStv remote; as well as the integration of app-based streaming services including Showmax and Netflix. More third-party streaming services are expected to be included later. DStv said that customers will also have the option to pay for their Netflix subscription in their monthly bill.
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